We really had no Spring this year in the lower half of Indiana and it’s been Summer since about mid-May, with temperatures staying steadily in the upper 80s to mid 90s. Everything in my herb and vegetable gardens went from being tiny to gargantuan overnight. I don’t remember ever having cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and peppers so early in the year. For the first time in my ten years of growing tomatoes I have experienced some type of tomato fungus that has yielded us mottled, thick-skinned tomatoes that look and taste terrible, with most rotting and falling off the vine before we can harvest them.
My cucumbers seem to be babies one day and look like the Hindenburg the very next week, so big and full of seeds I’m not sure how to use them. I have always been of the mindset to “let nature take its course”, but now I’m understanding that this resolve is not without its consequences.
As with everything in life, we have our good years and our bad years. I am truly thankful for a great harvest this year of sun gold cherry tomatoes, beautiful grape tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, tomatillos, summer squash and cucumbers, as well as the usual abundance of herbs (which yield so much goodness with so little effort).
One of my fondest childhood memories is helping my grandma pick tomatoes and beans in her garden in southern Kentucky. She and I would pick big beefsteak tomatoes and sometimes take a salt shaker out to the garden and eat them right off the vine. I helped her pick beans and then string and break them while sitting on the back porch. I remember driving out to the mountain where my great Aunt Flon lived and we four (Aunt Flon, Grandma, Mom and me) picking blackberries, which my grandma would later craft into a delicious pie.
Sometime in the early Summer of 2015 as I was mowing the grass on the side of our house I noticed some unfamiliar leaves growing there. I went to grab the weed eater out of the garage when something made me stop. Somehow these leaves didn’t look “weed-like” and so I decided to forego destroying them until I could identify them. As I continued to mow I made a possible connection. The previous November our uncarved Halloween pumpkins had been moved from the porch to the side of the house only when the Christmas decorations made an appearance. We had waited so long to dispose of them that they never made it to the compost pile; they barely made it to the side of our house before completely falling apart in our hands. They were left to decompose there in the barren area that lines the south-facing side of our home, where we have never bothered to landscape save for some maintenance-free peppermint. So now, seven months or so later, that little “ding” that went off in my brain, that natural instinct that makes even a modern human recognize the sometimes barely perceptible differences between a useless weed and an edible plant, was reminding me that we had dumped pumpkins in that very spot. Could these unfamiliar leaves be pumpkin leaves???